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Morphological Analysis

Morphological analysis is a method for identifying and investigating the total set of possible relationships or “configurations” contained in a multi-dimensional, non-quantifiable problem complex. This is accomplished by going through a number of iterative phases which represent cycles of analysis and synthesis.

The method begins by identifying and defining the most important dimensions (or parameters) of the problem complex to be investigated, and assigning each dimension a range of relevant values or conditions. This is done mainly in natural language, although abstract labels and scales can be utilized to specify the set of elements defining the discrete value range of a parameter. A morphological field is constructed by setting the parameters against each other in order to create an n-dimensional configuration space. A particular configuration within this space contains one ”value” from each of the parameters, and thus marks out a particular state of, or possible formal solution to, the problem complex.

The next step in the analysis-synthesis process is to examine the internal relationships between the field parameters and "reduce" the field by weeding out configurations which contain mutually contradictory conditions. In this way, we create a preliminary outcome or solution space within the morphological field without having first to consider all of the configurations as such. The technique of using pair-wise consistency assessments between conditions is used to weed out internally inconsistent configurations.

When this solution (or outcome) space is synthesized, the resultant morphological field becomes an inference model, in which any parameter (or multiple parameters) can be selected as "input", and any others as "output". Thus, with dedicated computer support, the field can be turned into a laboratory with which one can designate initial conditions and examine alternative solutions.

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